Author/Artist Name

madison johnsFollow



Download Thumbnail Sheet (11.0 MB)

Download Nina (63 KB)

Download Kate (91 KB)

Download Cedric (78 KB)

Download Eleanor (68 KB)

Download Felix (72 KB)

Download Alex (68 KB)

Download Hint Sheet (7.3 MB)

Download Timeline (2.1 MB)

Download Fingerprints (117 KB)

Download Solution 2 (2.8 MB)

Download Solution 1 (1.6 MB)

Download Crime Scene 1 (18.6 MB)

Download Crime Scene 2 (19.9 MB)

Download Wine Labels (187 KB)

Download Wine Bottles (107 KB)

Download Map Installed (185 KB)

Download Map File (1.2 MB)

Download Newspaper (204 KB)

Download Instructions (4.5 MB)

Download Robert & Angela Portrait (6.0 MB)

Download Voting (496 KB)

Download Evidence Board (183 KB)

Download PR Poster (899 KB)

Academic Level at Time of Creation


Date of Creation

Fall 2023

Artist Statement

As a maximalist specializing in illustration, I use common elements to visually connect my work and make the narrative and aesthetic more cohesive. Bold colors and patterns enhance detailed imagery, character design, and environmental design, along with monochromatic and complementary palettes. These elements are often paired with similar typography. All font choices are deliberately representative of the personality of each individual piece and its voice. Each suspect has their own signature font to help the viewer visually connect to the character, but the entirety of Murder & Merlot is branded in such a way that it has a specific heading font, Theories, a subheading font, Haarlem Deco, and a body font, Avenir Next Condensed.

Work flow begins with visual research and references. Flat, crisp, vector illustrations with many vibrant colors are some of my favorite things about graphic design. The way that small organic shapes come together to produce a larger interesting image is something I am always working to achieve. Masking patterns over flat areas or blocks of color is a fun way to strategically add texture and dimension. I draw inspiration from Neethi, an illustrator who uses shape, perspective, and loud patterns and colors to grab viewers’ attention and their eyes around the piece. Lulu Debreuil is another illustrator from whom I take heavy inspiration. She uses all of the aforementioned elements, especially flat shapes with patterns, to create gorgeous, captivating imagery. To avoid visually overwhelming an audience with too many conflicting elements, I take breaks during my workflow to view my progress from afar. Working with software where layers can be hidden is essential when deciding how much is too much. Balancing white space and intricate detail is a crucial step in my process because it is important to give the viewer’s eyes a place to rest among so much visual stimulation. This is something I use to my advantage in Murder & Merlot. Manipulating where a viewer will go for rest after high amounts of visual intake allows room for hidden clues and messages that may not be otherwise interpreted.

Growing up, I watched old mysteries with my family. Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie, Clue, and other icons of the genre brought us together and gave us a common interest. In an attempt to share that bond with others, I have completely brought to life an interactive murder mystery exhibit where viewers can observe all of my designs which will help them solve the mystery. I have incorporated a variety of different skill sets such as layout, composition, typography, color, character design, and illustration. The aesthetic is vibrant, but mysterious, and immerses the viewer into the world of the characters making them feel as if they are involved. Each character has colors, patterns, and display fonts, as well as a poster detailing their role within the mystery. Clues are displayed throughout the exhibit, along with additional posters and artifacts from the story to aid the viewer in their investigation and the final solution.

The ultimate goal is for the audience to come together and have a memorable connection, similar to what Agatha Christie did for my grandmother and me. Using illustration and graphics to make others feel excited and included is part of why design is important, and an interactive exhibit where the viewer becomes a fundamental part of the piece achieves this goal by providing an opportunity to unite an audience. Murder & Merlot is saturated with imagination and creativity in the hope that it will allow others to feel the same sense of excitement that I feel when designing.


Gregory Scott Cook; Jim Bryant; Cintia Segovia Figueroa; Timothy Michael Martin


Murder & Merlot presents its audience with an interactive murder mystery to be solved. Designed to spark conversation and unite an audience through storytelling, this exhibit uses several elements including graphic design, illustration, branding, web design, typography, layout, color theory, and more to put each viewer into the role of “detective“ to find out who killed Robert and Angela Cavendish.

Photo Credit

Photo Credit, Barry Johns, 2023

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Murder & Merlot: An Interactive Mystery Experience



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